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New draft 11n products

Netgear has introduced two new elements into the draft 11n technology mix. The first is a new "metamaterial" antenna technology developed in partnership with Rayspan. The patented metamaterial antenna arrays place six to eight antennas close together and direct signal energy to targeted wireless devices, while avoiding signal collision or interference with each other. This is, of course, aimed at delivering "superior range and throughput".

The second twist comes in the form of its WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router. This is an aggressively-priced ($130 MSRP) two-radio router, but with a standard 802.11b/g radio for 2.4 GHz band operation and a 2.4 / 5 GHz switchable radio intended for draft 11n client support.

WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router

WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router

Netgear said that the approach was driven by the need to reduce the price of dual-band draft 11n. But I'll bet it also is aimed at sidestepping the lousy performance shown by all draft 11n products when a mix of "legacy" and draft 11n clients are used.[related article].

The WNDR3300 uses an integrated array of eight metamaterial internal antennas, includes automatic QoS to prioritize network traffic and supports WPS pushbutton secure wireless setup. But in a misguided attempt to reduce cost (or improve product margins), Netgear has opted to include a 4 port 10/100 switch instead of gigabit Ethernet. The company said that it is also undergoing BitTorrent certification for all of its RangeMax N line. The router is said to be available shortly.

If you want gigabit LAN, then you'll have to opt for the WNR3500 RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router. This one comes in the vertical-style package used in the WNR-854T and WNR-834B, but with a charcoal grey tone from the looks of the product shot.

WNR3500 RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router

WNR3500 RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router

It's 2.4 GHz only, but otherwise has the same goodies as the WNDR3300, i.e. 8 element metamaterial antenna, auto QoS and WPS support. Also available shortly, it comes in at $160 MSRP.

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